Saturday, May 19, 2012

Al Fresco

Nothing too exciting about a cheese quesadilla and grapes for lunch . . .

Unless you're eating them barefoot on the grass on a picnic blanket.  Or, in this case, a dirty, paint-stained sheet.

I think it was a good move to avoid the leftover beef curry for this particular picnic lunch, though.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cultivating a Virtue

You know the one thing that I really wish could be given as a baby shower gift?  Patience.  Because there is nothing more essential when dealing with children.  And I most certainly do not have enough of it.

Late this afternoon I got A. to do some tilling for me in the garden in preparation for a planting marathon this weekend.  Cubby, of course, was out there with us, wandering around, digging with his big metal spoon and exploring the jungle that is the blackberry patch.  Immediately after the tilling I re-planted some volunteer broccoli plants that I had saved from tiller annihilation.  Then A. disappeared to continue work on his stone wall by the cellar door and, since Cubby was still happy in the garden, I decided to plant some beans.

Cubby loves to eat beans, so I thought he would like to help me plant them.  On my own, the job would have taken me approximately five minutes.  With Cubby's help it took . . . considerably longer than five minutes.  The following phrases were uttered at least 25 times each, in varying combinations, in the fifteen minutes or so we spent crouching down, with me poking holes at intervals for Cubby to drop his selected bean into.

"Just one bean in each hole.  Just one."

"Put it where my finger is, Cubby."

"No, we already put a bean in that hole."

"Don't step in the row we already planted."

Over and over and over and over, as I crouched there with beans in my hand (do you know how hard it is to crouch for any period of time when seven months pregnant?  yeah), burning in the surprisingly hot sun, and really, really wishing I could have just planted the damned things by myself and gotten it over with so I could go inside and make dinner.

And then, after we were done with the planting, there were the usual garden admonitions: "No, don't step there; we just planted that."  "Don't dig there; we just planted that."  "Don't run over the asparagus plants."  "Don't step there.  THERE.  DON'T STEP THERE."  "Go dig over by the tiller, okay?"  "Don't touch the tiller.  It might be hot."

I tried hard to not sound impatient, but I'm not sure I succeeded.  However, Cubby did help me plant both long rows of beans with apparent concentration and enjoyment, so I think it was worthwhile.

But seriously.  Someone send me another supply of patience for this next kid.  I could sure use some.

Current lamb count:  Eighteen--eleven girls, seven boys, and one ewe left to deliver.

Oh, and P.S.  Mia caught (and, presumably, ate) another woodchuck today that she found somewhere behind the forsythias.  I don't know where they're coming from, but they're not receiving much of a welcome around here.  My garden is very grateful to the dogs.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Tale of Two Woodchucks. And a Fox.

I think it's high time we got all country up in here, don't you?  We've had quite enough talk about motherhood and coffee makers and other non-rural topics for awhile.  It's time to talk about some woodchucks.

The real ones, I mean, not the kind that plow driveways with busted bed springs.

This morning A. got a call from his sister regarding a live trap she had set for her neighbor to catch a woodchuck that was living under the neighbor's garden shed.  The trap had caught a fox instead of the woodchuck, and A.'s sister was afraid to release the fox herself.  So she called A.

This happens a lot.  Something broken?  A large piece of furniture to be moved?  Wild animal to be dealt with? Call A.

He should start charging.


Since A.'s sister lives right in the village, I decided Cubby and I should go with him to see the fox.  I'd never seen one close up before, and neither had Cubby.  So we loaded up and drove over there, where we found a quite large and very angry gray fox in the trap.  It was growling and lunging at A. while it was still in the trap, but as soon as he opened the door of the trap (by means of a stick of wood so he could stand back behind it), the fox shot out of there and ran off into the trees.

A fox, unlike a woodchuck, can be released like that because it will remember being caught and will not return to the scene.

Then A. re-set the trap in a more strategic location to try again.

While we were there, the older lady who lives in the house came out (but only after the fox was safely gone) to tell us how bad she felt about trying to catch the woodchuck that was destroying the foundation of their garden shed.  I made a lighthearted comment about lending her our dogs and got a pretty horrified response.

Good thing she wasn't around later in the afternoon to see those very same dogs in action with another woodchuck.

A. was working on re-building the stone frame of the cellar door and Cubby and I were hanging around over there watching and "helping"*, so we were in a prime location to notice that Leda appeared to be camped out under the boundary hedge by the neighbors' driveway.  She would occasionally start yelping in the manner the dogs do when they're hunting and Mia would rush over (Otty was tied up somewhere else, so she wasn't a player in this hunt).  There's a fence right behind the hedge, so I thought they had a rabbit or something in a hole back there.  Mia would eventually wander back out again, but Leda stayed back there.

I did go over there and look under the hedge at one point, but it's so thick I couldn't even see Leda, much less whatever she was hunting.  So I shrugged and left her to it.  This happened a couple of times, and finally A. went over himself to look.

He, being a little swifter than I am sometimes, thought to look up.  And there he saw a woodchuck hanging in the hedge about eight feet up.  I asked him if he was going to shoot it, but in keeping with his philosophy that there's no need for work on his part when the dogs are so willing to do it for him, he instead used a hoe to shake the hedge and make the woodchuck drop to the ground.  We couldn't see what happened next, except for some shaking in the hedge, but we could hear the sounds of battle.  And then Mia came trotting out with a large dead woodchuck in her mouth.

She ran off to chew on her prize and could be spotted at different locations about the house for the rest of the afternoon with the woodchuck in various diminishing stages of being eaten.  It was really, really gross.  At one point, when I was taking laundry off the line, I lost track of Cubby and found him a minute later standing on the lawn staring fixedly at Mia eating the now very bloody and extremely disgusting woodchuck.

Who needs Marty Stouffer and the lions of the Sarangeti when you have collies and woodchucks right in your own backyard?

* Stealing tools, dumping the watering can out so Daddy didn't have any water to mix with the mortar, throwing lily roots into the mixed mortar . . . the usual.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Happy Things

There appears to a lot of negativity around here lately.  And by "around here," I mean in my posts.  I am sorry about that, but, you know, I've essentially been sick for a month and am starting to get really awkwardly pregnant, neither of which contributes to a shiny happy Kristin.  Know what does contribute to a shiny happier Kristin, though?  Let me make you a list!  WHEE!

1) A new coffee maker.  A. bought a coffee maker for himself when we moved to Albany, back in the days before I even drank coffee.  That would be ten years ago.  He bought the cheapest model available at Target, in keeping with our economic station (that is, really damn poor).  And it just kept going.  Not, however, without some minor inconveniences as it neared the end of its life.  It got incontinent, leaking water from mysterious and indeterminable places.  The basket part, which swung out to the side, wouldn't stay shut anymore unless I put a rubber band around it.  So I used a leaking, rubber banded coffee maker for at least a year, reluctant to throw it away as it was in fact still performing its stated duty of making coffee, albeit while annoying the shit out of me every morning.

And then, one day, I just bought a new one.  Just like that.  I upgraded to the twenty dollar model with programmable stuff and clocks and everything (not that I have used the programming feature yet, but I like talking about it), and my mornings have been better ever since.

2) A new sink strainer.  Due to the fact that we don't have a dishwasher and do all our dishes by hand, a sink strainer is a necessity for us.  A separate one from the one in the drain, I mean.  When you have to pour a huge pan of really dirty water out into the sink, you have to strain it before it gets to the drain thing, or else that will just clog up and the water won't drain out of the sink.  For years, a small plastic handled colander in the sink served this purpose.  It got pretty gross, though, and while I was in Arizona in March, the MiL chucked it.  In its place, she got a small stainless steel colander at the grocery store.

Except it was too big, taking up too much space in the sink and making it impossible to empty it into the compost pail without dumping grossness on the floor.  The MiL remarked wistfully that when she was a girl and everyone still did dishes by hand, every hardware store carried strainers that fit into the corner of the sink.  Well, every hardware store doesn't carry them now, but Amazon does.  So I bought one, and though washing dishes certainly didn't cease to suck, at least valuable real estate in the sink has been restored and there are a lot fewer egg shells on the floor.

3)  An iron-on ass patch.  When I finally gave in and started wearing maternity pants, my wardrobe shrank to three pairs of jeans, two of which were brand-new and one of which was pretty old and not particularly attractive.  So when I was climbing over the gate to let the chickens out about a month after buying those jeans, guess which pair I ripped a big, ragged tear in on the Satan's wire on that gate?  Yup, my favorite of the brand-new ones.  I attempted to mend them, but the belly panel (God, I hate that term) and my own shitty needle skills made it impossible.  So then I was down to two pairs of jeans.  Then, while I was helping A. with the shearing, the old ones tore from the thigh all the way up the crotch.

I can only hope I noticed before the shearer did.

Since I was then down to one pair of pants, I did go to the thrift store at that point and purchased one pair of maternity jeans that are a size too big and so don't fit that well, plus a pair of kind of odd-looking slacks.  This is the trade-off to thrift store shopping: Your selection, if you're looking for something specific, can be kind of limited.

These three pairs of pants is still sort of limited and occasionally results in my having to wear a pair of A.'s sweatpants while I wash my pants.  This is not a good look.  But I'll be damned if I'll spend thirty dollars on another pair of maternity jeans that I can only wear for a few more months.  And then, when I was out for my exciting Mother's Day jaunt, I stopped at a craft store and got one of those denim patches that can be ironed on.  It took all of thirty seconds, and now I have another pair of jeans.  Begging the question of why I didn't just do this two months ago, but never mind that.

4) The tiller.  I really, really love the fact that when I'm planning on planting anything in the garden, my plans no longer include several hours with a shovel.  Instead I just call in A.and his tiller and sit back while he prepares my planting beds.

5) Little boys in overalls.  Much as I love it when little boys look like miniature men, overalls continue to be my favorite item of children's apparel.

They're especially appropriate when putting the animals to bed for the night in the barn.  That's what he's doing, in case you were wondering.

I'm sure there are more, but this has turned into a crazy-long description of things that are probably only interesting to me, so we'll just end here with a question:  What's making you happy lately, duckies?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Partial Absenteeism

I know you were all waiting with bated breath (this is a phrase I actually kind of hate, so I don't know why I used it, but there you are) to know if I spent Mother's Day, um, not being a mother.

Yup.  Sort of.  The morning was typical, in that we all got up early* and Cubby played outside with tools all morning while A. moved his fence to put his sheep on new pasture.  Except I did request that A. make crepes, which he did.  A selfless gesture on his part, since he doesn't even eat them.

The big difference, however, was that I knew as soon as Cubby went down for his nap at noon, I was running away.  Which I did.  All the way to the Not-as-Small City.

Okay, so it's only 45 minutes away, but it was still pretty exciting.

Not that I did anything very exciting.  I went to a book sale and bought eight books for eight dollars.  I went to the quite large and actually sort of famous farmers market and had a very good chicken pita.  I went to Target and bought a new shower curtain liner to replace our current mildew-stained one with holes in it.

So, you know, nothing extraordinary.  Except I didn't have a toddler in tow. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I was gone a whole five hours.  When I got home, A. grilled some meat and the MiL made the rest of dinner, along with a rhubarb pudding for dessert.

It was a good day.

* I got up at 5 a.m., because I am STILL SICK GODDAMIT and my throat hurt after a night of coughing and mouth breathing, so I decided to just get up and take a hot shower and have some tea already.  I'm mostly recovered now, except for an occasional coughing fit and the fact that I have almost lost my voice.  A. got sick again too, and the two of us have been passing the tissues and Fisherman's Friend back and forth for days. Bullshit, all of this.  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Walking a Mile

You will never properly appreciate your own mother until you become a mother yourself.  Which I realize is impossible for the (very few) men in the group reading this, so you'll just have to employ your imaginations.

But for the women, if you become a mother yourself, no imagination is required to realize how hard your own mother worked for you all your life, with very little recognition or thanks from her children.  How she will always be working for you, albeit from afar and in a much different way, for the rest of her life.  Because moms do that.  You can't turn off the mom thing.  Once that kid has arrived, you're a mom forever.

My own mother had three children within four years.  We were a military family, which meant that especially when my siblings and I were very small, we moved a lot.  Packing up three kids and moving them every three years (or even every year or six months, depending on the assignments) requires a level of patience, courage, and fortitude that I'm not sure I possess myself.  To say nothing of the solo parenting while my dad was away for extended overseas training.

I have a good mother.  A great mother, even.  And now that I'm a mother myself, I realize how incredibly lucky I am to be given that role model for my own parenting.

So, to my own mother (who sent ME a card this year, and I didn't even send her one, which tells you a lot about her):  The happiest of Mother's Days and all my love and appreciation.  Thank you.